Colin Slee: I Wish I’d Known Ye

The Very Revd Colin Slee, Dean of Southwark Cathedral in London, died last week and his funeral service was today in the cathedral. The sermon was given by Dr Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans, who was formerly the Theologian at Southwark, was nominated as Bishop, and in a scandalous turn, the nomination was rescinded because conservatives objected to John’s homosexuality.

He noted that Slee said to him in the weeks before his death how “surprisingly un-scared” he was.

I wish I’d known him; on my recent visit to London with David we actually walked past his house, where I spotted the Archbishop of Canterbury casually knocking on the bright yellow front door and waiting to be admitted in that stooping posture that he has. The ABC is unmistakable; I spotted him from behind, even though he was wearing an ordinary black suit with a priest’s collar. The house, called the Provost’s Lodging, is a couple of doors down from the Globe Theater, where David and I were about to take a tour. ++Rowan must have been making a pastoral care visit, as Slee passed away at home the next week. It’s a kind gesture, and as much as I wish Archbishop Rowan were less accomodating to the conservative faction that wishes to bar the door to some of Christ’s people, I am glad he was able to “be there” for his friend (in spite of their differences over the “Jeffrey Johns affair,” they remained friends).

From Johns’ funeral homily on Colin Slee:

Other people had said to him ‘It’s not fair: you’ve led a good life’. Colin replied, ‘How do you know? And anyway, whatever goodness I have is God’s gift. We rely on mercy, not fairness’.

It’s that confidence in God’s goodness that is the key to all the rest. What upset Colin about the Church was that in over his time as a priest it seemed to have grown narrower and meaner and less loveable, making God look narrow and mean and unloveable too; which for Colin was a sort of ultimate blasphemy. He wanted the Church to be big-hearted and warm and generous and kind because that’s how God is, and if we don’t reflect that, how are we going to show God to the world?

The papers and his detractors always portrayed Colin as an arch-Liberal, as if he were the leader of a faction obsessed with a secular agenda. It was never true, and it misses the whole point. For Colin it began and ended with God. The truth is that he was a traditional Catholic Anglican, thoroughly disciplined and orthodox in his faith, a man of profound prayer and penitence. His idea of inclusiveness was not that ‘anything goes’, but that we are all equally in need of healing, and therefore the Church must equally be a home for all. Colin welcomed people because Jesus did.

And that didn’t just mean welcoming gay people and women bishops, important as that was and is. He welcomed everybody. The first thing he did in Southwark was to take down the notice that said ‘Worship in progress – Cathedral closed’.

via The Lead.

Slee once jumped up and down, in full canonicals, on the Millennium Bridge in order to demonstrate to all and sundry that it wasn’t safe and had a dangerous wobble. Meanwhile, the hereditary ruler of all and sundry, the Queen of England was standing right there next to him ready to dedicate the thing, and Slee was taking part in the blessing of it. He must have been an amazing person to know – the comments at Thinking Anglicans were full of personal anecdotes and only one slightly acidulated comment from someone who probably had poor taste in shirts.

The BBC has a short synopsis here from their programme The Last Word, it will be playable via the iPlayer plugin for just a few days, but the introductory synopsis should remain visible.

I agree with Colin’s assessment that the ABC was “much too accomodating” to the conservatives, as the Archbishop himself noted in his careful, scholarly way. The rest of the audio portion goes on to note how Slee hosted a speech by Zimbabwean prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, which was later disrupted by exiles who accused the politician of selling out in the aftermath of the controversial elections there.

He also hosted our own Bishop Katharine and gave her a place to preach during the lively times that came to be known as “Mitregate.” Many celebrated people came to preach, preside, and pray at Southwark during his time.

During Slee’s 16 years at Southwark, visitors included Nelson Mandela and all four prime ministers. Last year he allowed the beleaguered Zimbabwe premier Morgan Tsvangirai to use the cathedral for a rally of exiles. Slee, who had visited and studied in South Africa, was unfazed when protests caused the address to be curtailed. During the 400th anniversary of John Harvard’s baptism in Southwark he could not resist suggesting that it was the narrow religious view of such emigrants which gave rise to the US’s neocon right.

A low point for Slee was when it fell to him to announce that one of his canons, Jeffrey John, was to be denied the Bishopric of Reading to which he had been appointed. He had been opposed by evangelicals fearful of a gay person being a prelate. Slee believed in an inclusive church and said so when it was not fashionable. He was always pleased to welcome disenchanted evangelicals to his confident congregation.

As with Jeffrey John, there was a sense of anticipation when Slee was due to preach. Although there might be a good soundbite, his discourse was always strongly Bible-based. His robust humour could be misunderstood. On leaving Winchester Cathedral, his host said, “Do come again.” “I shall,” Slee replied. “I am looking forward to attending your bishop’s funeral.” The astonished canon was unaware the bishop had just presided at a hearing which had gone against Slee’s strong views.

He was a trustee of Borough Market, where he took pleasure in buying “Stinking Bishop” cheese. Looking to the future, he struck a deal with Network Rail to protect the cathedral from the Thameslink plans. “Being dean feels like being on the footplate of a runaway express train,” he once said. “It is exciting as the church should be.”

Following heart surgery last year he was again on his bicycle. He criticised George Carey’s call to limit immigration as “utterly extraordinary”. At Easter he persuaded many to miss lunch and demonstrate against President Mugabe. In June he triggered what became known as “Mitregate” by welcoming Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first Anglican woman primate. In October he was diagnosed with cancer following a fall. Death came swiftly at home.

We walked completely around Southwark Cathedral trying to find the right door to enter; they’re having the “front” renovated, which butts up against a National Railway bridge and overlooks a tiny little Italian coffee garden that’s tucked under the arch. The “main door” at the back was full of students from the London School of Economics and from another college, about to have some sort of baccalaureate service (or possibly a fall graduation ceremony). Just up the road, we passed by the Borough Market and saw a sign for Stinking Bishop cheese at a cheerfully grubby little pub. I’d like to return to Southwark another time and see how they’re getting on without their “liberal-conservative” Dean someday, it struck me as a lively, interesting area full of interesting little corners and diverse entertainments.

I just wish I’d known him, although I’d known OF him for years. He sounds like a wonderful person.

Ugly Americanisms: Two Countries Divided By A Language

In my ongoing love affair with all things British, I sometimes come up against things that are less loveable, such as the crankypants insularity that is a hallmark of the English national personality. I do understand, really I do; references to our popular culture, fast-food cuisine and security-theater politics are everywhere in the UK where there’s a TV, a McDonalds, or an international airport.

I chuckled at this story, which quotes several peevish readers complaining about the use of American idiom and slang in the Guardian, a left-leaning newspaper. For the record, “clatch” is the German word “klatsch,” we currently spell it “rambunctious” now (note spelling differs from the original one), and “schlep” is Yiddish. Our shared language is as endlessly diverting as it is diverse.

"Can you please ask your journalists and feature writers not to use American English in their articles? Whilst I appreciate that many are either American themselves, or have spent a long time in the USA, they are nevertheless writing for a British readership. Recent examples include clatch, rumbunctious, drag for High Street, dweebish and schlep. I find myself constantly having to reach for the dictionary to find out what your journalists are saying when I am reading the Guardian or Observer because of these ugly and unnecessary Americanisms."

via Lickety splits: two nations divided by a common language | Mind your language | Media | guardian.co.uk.

Dine And Dash, London Style

We don’t eat in these sorts of places, but I imagine it wasnt difficult to catch a man full of good food and undoubtedly very good wine.

We just got back from dinner with friends at a very nice Italian restaurant near Sloan Square called Caraffini. Lovely time, fabulous food, we did dine well but definitely did not dash away. I had the chicken with chestnuts; it was memorable.

For our return journey we re-enacted the “car scene” from Notting Hill; hope the doorman was amused as we extricated ourselves.

LONDON (Reuters) – An unemployed man has been charged with wining and dining at a series of London’s top restaurants, running up massive bills and then disappearing without paying, police said on Wednesday.
Latvian Janis Nords, 27, is accused of carrying out the scam on three occasions between October 14 and November 15.

via Man charged with eat and run at top restaurants – Yahoo! News.

AA Website Wonders Why It Sits Home On A Friday Night

Because the Christian Science Monitor is not that into it, frankly.

I’ve visited AA.com a number of times recently, and here we are at the gate waiting to board the London flight. In coach, because I didnt have elite mileage status (and being a travel agent is actually negative status mojo these days).

I agree that AA.com is ugly, hard to navigate, and nearly impossible to use. And I also agree that RyanAir has them beat for ugly, diffuculty of use, and likelihood that it’ll time out while you’re reading terms and accepting policies. Ugh.

On the other hand, WE’RE HEADED TO LONDON but will keep in touch with family.

Posted with the iPhone, barely

1. American Airlines

The website design expert’s opinion on the major airline’s homepage is blunt:

“It looks like a government form. Believe it or not, American Airlines’ site stresses me out just by looking at it,” says Gabriel Shaoolian, CEO of Blue Fountain Media, a website design company with clients such as Nike, United Nations, and Harper Collins Publishers. “It looks like it was created 15 years ago.”

The airline’s static homepage comes off even worse once compared to those of its competitors, JetBlue.com or United.com for example. Both have more relaxed designs – less clutter and easier on the eyes color schemes.

Planning a flight can already be a harrowing experience. Add to that an unappealing interface and users may subconsciously avoid purchasing from American Airlines.

via 4 ugly websites from companies that should know better – American Airlines – CSMonitor.com.

Making A List, Then Packing… for LONDON

Need to work on a packing list, we always start gathering stuff, and then laying it out, and THEN making verbal lists. And we always forget something.

It’s not possible to overstate the importance of actually creating a personal packing list, and using it regularly. Such a list serves two principal purposes. First (and foremost), it’s a sort of contract you make with yourself, an agreement (and ongoing reminder) that if it’s not on your list, it shouldn’t be in your bag (because all the necessary items are on your list); this defends against last-minute attacks of “I might need this.” The worst possible time to be considering what to take on a trip is while you are packing for it!

It’s important to understand that the goal is a single packing list, not different ones for different trips. The primary purpose of the list is not to specify (or record) what you are taking with you on any particular journey, but rather to develop a model for your own travels, a constraint on your packing exuberance, a personal blueprint that you can refine over time (not change every time).

The world is awash with so-called “packing lists”. Thousands can be found on the Internet, and almost any travel store will happily supply you with what usually amounts to a list of the many things you might buy from them. And therein lies the fault of most such lists: they enumerate the possibilities, rather than eliminate the liabilities. A list of stuff you might want to take is very different from a list of things that you can’t travel (comfortably) without. Even the Internet’s venerable Universal Packing List is intended to be exhaustive, thus not at all the type of list that I am suggesting here (in the real world, author Mats Henricson uses a much different — and shorter! — list for his own actual travels).

The secondary function of a packing list is to help ensure that nothing important will be forgotten. The go-light traveller in particular is only carrying items that are essential to the journey, so forgetting one of them can be especially inconvenient.

via Using A Packing List :: One Bag.

UPDATE: Well, there are a few things I need to get done…or mark off that I’ve already done them.

Petsitter
Tickets
London Pass with 7 days Tube access
Check for shows/concerts the week we’re there
Hotel – in progress (working on some agent deal or other from a short list)
Refill prescriptions for various pills (CRAP! forgot to call the quack’s office today)
Pick up travel size bottles for non-incendiary liquids, potions, and lotions
New underwear might be nice
New socks (wool!) might be nice
? pairs slacks (at least 2 pairs, maybe 3 if room)
1 pair jeans
Jacket for going out (leather one too heavy?)
Pashminas – need handwash and iron them, but need to find them all first
Rain jacket
Walking shoes – have got
Going-out-to-dinnah shoes that don’t kill my feet – need
Sleep shirt
? Pullovers
At least 3 turtlenecks
2 or 3 long-sleeve shirts to layer
1 or 2 sleeveless vests to layer (NOT UNDERWEAR, Brits, more like fleece shells)
Extra carryall (need buy Harrod’s bag for Choirmistress Mary)
Maps and Guidebooks (need gather the ones we have already)
Sundries (!!)

Nice to hear from Mad Priest. The press release must have gotten mixed in with the junk mail!

Sex In A Phonebooth

We naive Americans apparently think that’s what they’re for, according to London’s deputy mayor.
BBC NEWS | UK | England | London | Sex card challenge to phone firms

Kit Malthouse, London’s deputy mayor for policing, wants the numbers on sex calling cards found in telephone boxes blocked as soon as they are identified.

He said mobile phone numbers were valuable to those behind the sex industry and should be cut off.

The deputy mayor has invited Vodafone, Orange, O2, 3, Virgin and T-Mobile to meet him.

Mr Malthouse said: “If you are an American tourist and if you walk into a telephone box you would think it was a sex shop.

And since when do the British have to do anything to avoid offending my delicate American Puritanical sensibilities?? Leave the poor prostitutes alone and do something about those Lilliputian hotel showers. They have just 2 settings: Freeze One’s Arse or Scald One’s Wedding Tackle.

Blogyear In Review

While putting off the task of adding a personal note to holiday cards that MUST! GO! OUT!, I decided to review My Year In Blogging.

January:

Today, at Holy Moly, we had some excitement too. I ended up staying for both services just because there was a rehearsal for the big day after the second service. There was lots of laughter, a little girl threw up in front of the choir, Pat Kalicki stood in for Bishop Katharine in the run-through wearing a paper bishop’s mitre, and there was lots of chaos and general anarchy.

Later on in February, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori visited Holy Moly. A good time was had by all and sundry.

Via My Week: Cold, Busy, Cold, Busy, Cold

February

One of the blessings of a “mixed” family heritage is that you get to eat comfort foods from more than one buffet line. Case in point: yesterday’s family confab and lunch nosh, which was held at Max’s Delicatessen in Skokie.

I knew going in that on a bitterly cold day, fighting a “bug” and trying not to cough too much, I needed lots of chicken soup, STAT. Probably with kreplach (dumplings) or matzoh balls (actually, one ginormous matzoh ball). But I’d never seen anything like the menu item under the various listings for chicken soup extras – underneath all of them, it said “Mish-Mosh Chicken Soup.” It was a lot more expensive, and my rudimentary knowledge of Yiddish told me it was a mixture or a little of everything. Good enough, and then I saw that the 1/2 soup, 1/2 sandwich option for lox and a toasted bagel included a note: “$3.50 extra for Mish-Mosh.”

Sold. I ordered. The waitress asked “Nova, or regular?” and I knew to answer “regular” because Nova Scotia lox is more expensive. David ordered mish-mosh for his half-and-half, too. My nephew Josh chuckled “Mish-mosh, it’s brutal.”

Presently, a tremendous bowl arrived, with all kinds of stuff sticking out of it. A giant matzoh, made with dill weed. A couple of kreplach, including some broken ones. A bunch of little bitty thin, flat noodles like the kind that come in Lipton’s dried onion soup mix, but longer and curlier. A ladlefull of rice. And finally, a whole bunch of loose crumbled corned beef, that must have falled out of yet more unseen broken kreplach.

Oh, man, was it good.

The lox and bagel arrived after a few minutes’ work on the soup. It was a disappointment, with two thin strips of lox, barely enough to put on each half of toasted bagel. I’m used to sandwich places that give you FOUR strips and CAPERS, but no. And the onions were the super-hot kind, not the mild sweet kind that goes better with smoked salmon and any kind of plain or savory cream cheese (I had plain).

But the soup more than made up for this deficiency of lox. I finished most of the solid stuff out of it and didn’t leave much liquid behind, either. MMM, yummy.

After we’d all mostly finished eating, the announcement to the family was made. Somebody will be going through chemo after surgery again. This was a surprise to a couple of people, and just at that moment, all kinds of service people descended on the table offering bills, more coffee, more new pickles, and offering to box up uneaten food. Argh! Go away! But it was the most convenient place to meet the busiest subset of the family, so that’s where we were instead of at one of our homes.

So we listened, and we pondered, and we offered help and casseroles, and expressed hope and love and support.

My mom-in-law Leah came through with flying colors and again sports a full head of hair. YAAAY!

Via Mish-Mosh of the Soul

March

My husband David and I – as he noted on his blog – were finally seduced by the Light Side, the Forces of Brightness, the White Lord of the Pith, the Core of All Good, etc. etc. We both got iPhones as we’d previously warned.

Stupidly, we went to Woodfield Mall yesterday, rather than driving to the brand new AT&T store on Algonquin in Rolling Meadows, which as of March 17th had 16G iPhones. The Apple store was out of the 16G’s and didn’t expect to get any for some time, so we shrugged and said “Okay, we’ll take the 8G phones, we won’t need the extra capacity, it was just a thought.”

We may yet have cause to regret this impetuousity.

Plus, this timely link:

You can have my iPhone… when you pry it from my cold, arthritic, obsessively clutching fingers.

Via We Drank The Kool-Aid

April

Wow. I still can’t believe that I had a chance to see the McDades at the Abbey Pub, a well known Chicago institution. And that my husband David and I got to see them gratis, a fact that makes me absurdly grateful and humble. Hell, this blogging gig is pretty cool if people contact you out of the blue and give you free stuff and invite you to all the best parties.

Okay, enough about that, I’m a mere amoeba on the Great Evolutionary Chain of Blogging Being.

The thing I REALLY can’t believe that there were only about 10 people at the show. I feel bad about this, because that means that at least 20% of the crowd was there for free. So the next day, I went to the The McDades – Music website and bought their latest CD, Bloom. No, I could have downloaded it from iTunes for less, or I could have gone to Borders and rooted around in the Celtic/World Music bins until I found it, but no. I freaking felt compelled to pay Canadian funds and Canadian shipping, because I felt terrible for the band and for their mom, who was nice enough to contact me in the first place.

Via The McDades at the Abbey Pub 22APR08

May

A selection of photos from our trip to Maine and Washington DC

I Heart Maine

Can I just say, I “heart” Maine?

IMG_4462_edited-1

This looks like a nice place to stay, right?

Well, not exactly:

IMG_4471

It’s probably a bitch to get to in the winter, but you’d never have to worry about sightseeing rubberneckers trying to poke their noses into your business.

IMG_4479_edited-1

Or maybe not.

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Local color, to better lure the tourists into the restaurant

After some more wandering, we decided to give Hyannisport a complete miss and found our way to a beautifully serene nature preserve dedicated to Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring.

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It was a nice walk in the woods, very quiet.

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Sunset

Boothbay Harbor at sunset

Via The East Coast Trip Part I

June

Perhaps the most telling endorsement of Obama is something I just heard an NPR “In Character” piece on Mr. Spock, the Classic Star Trek character played by Leonard Nimoy. After a discussion of Spock’s intriguing hidden qualities and his half-human, half-Vulcan heritage and how that translates to contemporary issues, we find out that Nimoy is an Obama supporter, too.

Actually, I bet someone’s already done a parody of the candidates as Star Trek characters. McCain would have to be late-stage Kirk, perhaps from one of the odd-numbered movies. Although I’m also tempted to see him as Commodore Matthew Decker

Ron Paul might make a good lesser commander, probably one of the insane ones with fanatical followers, like Capt. Ron Tracey.

Hillary Clinton? the best she could hope for is as a wannabe Janeway, in my opinion. She runs the ship, but doesn’t really get anywhere, is literally tossed around the galaxy by events beyond her control, is in permanent damage control mode, and everybody is relieved when it’s all over in a confusing jumble.

It seems I missed a bet on re-casting Kirk

Via I Am A Demographic Anomaly

July

My husband David and I are well on the way to fogeyhood: without consulting each other’s schedules, we made doctor’s appointments for the same day within 15 minutes. He’s up first, then me.

By way of illustration, I see the large-type Readers Digest has a relevant article.

photo

As you can see the Readers Digest large type edition has an article about the Things Your Doctor Isnt Telling You.

Via Officially Middle-Aged

August

“He who is tired of London is tired of life. “

We’re not tired of London, and are already plotting a return trip. But it’s time to move on to the Cotswolds for five nights and we won’t miss our cramped little hotel room near Paddington.

On Sunday, I made good on my threat to attend services at St Johns-Hyde Park. Met the Rev. Margaret Legg, who presided while the Vicar preached. Very diverse, progressive people – they’re looking forward to the Blessing of the Horses Sep 21, where the vicar will don cope and split cassock and bless the cavalcade (I believe there is a pub visit as well). Terrific young female soloist, plus a young man who played classical guitar.

Before church David and I walked in Hyde Park, with all the dogwalkers and riders on horseback. We paid several appendages to eat breakfast at the nearby Hilton. After I returned we headed out and wasted a lot of time on the Original Bus tour on a boat to Greenwich; took too long and the museum was closing by the time we got done with lunch and then had a terrible time getting back on the tube.

Also encountered: an old gentleman feeding his squirrel friends in St James Park, and a polite young Peruvian bear named Paddington, who we met at the station as we were leaving London. We gave him a lift and he now lives in Mt Vernon, IL with our niece Melissa. She calls him “PB” and is always fussing over him.

Via Horsies and Squirrels and Bears Oh My!

September

Flickr

The story on this image: David and I were doing something we rarely do – watching TV more or less “live”, and even more unusually, we were watching a network show and not bothering to zip through the commercials. This one came on for a product called Botox Cosmetic — with the tagline “it’s all about freedom of expression!” We had to pause the TiVo just to laugh. Apparently, the makers are quite proud of their product and address the troubling question of “Will I be able to make facial expressions after using Botox-Cosmetic?”

Yeah, right. Aaaaanyway.

My husband David said “there is something so wrong about a product ad that says “toxin.” I said “I thought botox gave you freedom FROM expressions.” As we looked at each other, we both made the same facial expression… the “I’m so blogging this” expression.
We both dove for a blogging appliance.

Via Botox: Freedom From Expression

October

Flickr

I have to say, early on it was a thrill, because I got to vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden in the Presidential race at last. At last! Great God almighty… well, two more weeks until we know for sure. But I decided it would probably be inappropriate to burst into tears, song, or both, so I sucked it up and kept on voting. I was happy to vote for Sen. Durbin, who’s kind of been on fire the last two years what with suddenly being one of the highest ranking majority members and being able to get a lot more bills through committee and passed than ever before. And I voted for Bean, who’s done all right and also benefited by becoming a majority-party U.S. Representative in her second term.

There was definitely electricity in the air, though, and we overheard the village hall guy say that on Friday and Saturday, the first days of early voting, there was a wait of 35 minutes, with people out the door waiting to vote. Earlier today, I was reading about how Utah’s doing early voting, and today was the last day to register. So in Salt Lake, they had so many people show up that they set up a drive-thru outdoors, with extra staff deputized to hand applications to drivers, who filled them out in their cars (or on their motorcycles) and handed them back. A number of people then were able to vote early. A TON of people have been registered in Utah; many of them are Republicans who never bothered voting for the last decade because in Utah it was either a waste of time (Clinton) or safely in the bag (Bush).

But there are a lot of Democrats in Salt Lake, and Salt Lake County. Also not a few in the Park City area; I think that’s Summit County. They might be electing a few down-ticket candidates, else why would Hillary Clinton bother to show up for a couple of fundraisers in that reddest of red states?

And we pretty much know how that turned out, thank GOD. Also, Salt Lake County went (barely) for Obama. The Democrats in Utah are feeling good.

Via V is for Voted

November

Palin fakes admirably and fails irrevocably, trying to not let on that she has absolutely no clue who the people are that “Sarkozy” is raving about. She doesn’t even drop to it when “M. le President” notes that he can see Belgium from his ass. Sarah laughs uncomfortably, perhaps not wishing to embarrass the gentleman over his poor command of English idioms. Too bad Palin’s never bothered to glance in the direction of Canada from her bathroom window, or bone up on the name of its premier.

UPDATE: Okay, he may have said “from his ‘ouse” in his strong Quebecois accent, but it sounded like “ass,” same as what he made of Palin.

You get the impression that Sarah is listening for those dog-whistle phrases to which she knows the answers. She knows enough about Sarkozy to gush about his beautiful wife and family. And finally she is told she’s been pranked by the Masked Avengers comedy radio duo from Quebec. The background discussion between Palin and at least two aides after she repeats aloud “Ohhhh, we’ve been pranked… what radio station?” is worth the toe-curling agony of listening to Palin. At the very beginning, she can’t even take the call with aplomb, starting to talk to the prankster who’s playing the part of the aide to the French President. She bobbles her greeting and then hands the phone back to her aide, saying “I always do that!” before getting back on and saying “Hel-LO” to the fake French leader just like she did to the “aide.”

Funny stuff. I doubt they’ll have much success with Obama’s people.

Good times, eh?

Via Daily Kos: Palin Pranked AAAAAH!!!! SO FULL OF WIN

December

We went to the holiday party last night for David’s office. In recent years, it’s been an enjoyable enough affair, especially after they stopped booking the DJ nobody liked… but the experience we had was somewhat beyond our wildest expectations of a nice evening.

Meson Sabika was the setting, a large mansion in Naperville, which is one of the few Chicago suburbs with a sense of its own history. First settled in 1811, it’s set in gently rolling country, with a vibrant and architecturally appealing downtown, with public space and art everywhere. We drove down after work, and I was in my typically grumpy “I HATE GETTING DRESSED UP” frame of mind on the way. All that changed as soon as we walked in the door.

Via Meson Sabika Flamenco Holiday Party

6 London Pubs To Try

These look like good places to try on our next visit to London.

Clamorous pub patios line the streets of London in summer, luring those who like a side order of sunburn with their al-fresco beer. But the city’s best taverns arguably come into their own in winter, when cozy quaffers hunker over dark ales before crackling fireplaces as tempests whip at the windows outside. With many of the city’s toastiest watering holes hidden just off the beaten path, here’s a six-pack of the best for those planning their next seasonal visit.

Drink in London history by the pintful — chicagotribune.com

Horsies and squirrels and Bears, oh my!

“He who is tired of London is tired of life. ”

We’re not tired of London, and are already plotting a return trip. But it’s time to move on to the Cotswolds for five nights and we won’t miss our cramped little hotel room near Paddington.

On Sunday, I made good on my threat to attend services at St Johns-Hyde Park. Met the Rev. Margaret Legg, who presided while the Vicar preached. Very diverse, forward looking people- they’re looking forward to the Blessing of the Horses Sep 21, where the vicar will don cope and split cassock and bless the cavalcade (I believe there is a pub visit as well). Terrific young female soloist, plus a young man who played classical guitar.

Before church David and I walked in Hyde Park, with all the dogwalkers and riders on horseback. We paid several appendages to eat breakfast at the nearby Hilton. After I returned we headed out and wasted a lot of terrific on the Original Bus tour on a boat to Greenwich; took too long and the museum was closing by the time we got done with lunch and then had a terrible time getting back on the tube.